Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich laughs before having a Cuban coffee… (Alan Diaz / Associated Press )
Reporting from Orlando, Fla. — Saying he does not want false claims made on his behalf, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich on Friday morning called on a "super PAC" that supports him to withdraw commercials it ran in South Carolina criticizing Mitt Romney and his old company Bain Capital.
Gingrich made the call to a crowd of supporters at his new Orlando campaign headquarters, saying there is no way he can legally contact Winning Our Future to make the request directly.
Winning Our Future aired a 29-minute commercial fashioned as a political documentary accusing Romney and Bain of greed and interviewing former employees of Romney's former company who complained that the capital venture firm wreaked economic havoc on their small towns.
Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the PAC, responded that he was "aware of and share the speaker's concerns about accuracy," and promised a more thorough response would be forthcoming.
The full-length video, 30-second TV versions based on it, and two-minute versions available on the Internet, were roundly criticized by Romney and his campaign as inaccurate. Independent observers including the Washington Post have confirmed inaccuracies.
"It's important why my campaign is different than some other people's campaigns," he told a crowd of about 150 supporters packed in his new office.
"I've said all along that these super PACs ought to have some sense of responsibility. The ad for example that Gov. Romney is running in Florida right now about me was given four ‘Pinocchios' by the Washington Post, which means it was wrong at least four times in 30 seconds, which is not easy. I challenged the governor to speak up. He frankly has been timid and irresponsible.
"This morning we found out this new 30-minute film on Gov. Romney and Bain has some factual errors in it, from the same Washington Post fact-checkers. I want to say I am true to what I say.
"I am calling on this super PAC – I cannot coordinate with them and I cannot communicate directly, but I can speak out as a citizen as I'm talking to you -- I call on them to either edit out every single mistake or to pull the entire film," he said.
"They should not run the film if it has errors in it," Gingrich continued. "I think we should have somebody who wants to be president ought to have the courage to stand up for the truth, and ought to be prepared to say if something is false."
Gingrich's staff said the same call will be made about the shorter versions, if they contain inaccuracies.
"I don't want anybody who supports me running something which has found to be inaccurate," Gingrich said in brief comments to the Orlando Sentinel. "It would be nice if Gov. Romney had the same leadership."
"They should be accurate. To the degree that they are inaccurate they should be edited to take all the inaccuracies out of it or they should be withdrawn," he reiterated. "That documentary needs to be edited to be technically correct or it needs to be pulled totally."
Tom Hamburger of the Tribune Washington bureau contributed to this report.